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Millennium Development Goals Get Mixed Review

The United Nations has given a mixed review of global efforts to lift millions of people out of extreme poverty. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva where the report has been issued.

The Millennium Development Goals call for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and for radical improvements in boosting primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, and combating HIV/AIDS.

U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon says recent statistics show the number of extremely poor people living on less than a dollar a day fell to 980 million in 2004. One-and-one-quarter billion people lived in extreme poverty in 1990. He says this achievement has been made despite a sharp increase in the total global population.

"The share of children attending primary school has grown from 80 percent in 1990 to 88 percent in 2005," he said. "There has also been strong progress on child mortality because of focused interventions-on measles, TB, dysentery and malaria. I am very encouraged by these statistics."

The report finds South and South East Asia have made the most impressive reductions in extreme poverty. But, the poverty rate in Western Asia has more than doubled.

The report notes some progress is being made in other challenging regions. It says even sub-Saharan Africa is defying all predictions and is doing better than expected in cutting levels of poverty. It says the continent's poverty rate has fallen by nearly six percentage points since 2000.

Despite these gains, it says the poverty gap in sub-Saharan Africa remains the highest in the world. It says Africa urgently needs help in fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as well as in basic medical care and education.

The U.N. Secretary General accuses developed countries of failing to live up to their commitments to provide adequate funding to help poor countries improve their situations.

"The goals are achievable, I think, if countries commit themselves to sound governance and accountability and receive adequate financial and technical assistance from the developed countries," he said. " For developed countries, it is also very necessary, desirable to keep their commitment."

Mr. Ban says there has not been any significant increase in Official Development Assistance since 2004. He says that makes it impossible, even for well-governed countries, to meet the Millennium Development Goals. He says the Group of Eight industrialized countries should meet its pledge to double aid to Africa by 2010.